On January 31, a letter signed by more than 80 American Muslim organizations was sent to Attorney General Merrick Garland by the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR). The letter alleges that the Investigative Project on Terrorism (IPT), a nonprofit founded by Steve Emerson in 1995, has launched a coordinated effort to infiltrate and spy on the U.S. Muslim community; the letter repeatedly refers to IPT as a “hate group.”
In December, CAIR’s Ohio chapter fired its director, Romin Iqbal, who had admitted to providing information to the IPT. A month later, CAIR also accused Tariq Nelson of the Dar Al-Hijrah Islamic Center in Falls Church, Virginia, one of the DC region’s largest mosques, of being an informant for IPT.
Much of the reporting on this story has omitted CAIR’s troubling history; among other things, prominent CAIR members have been convicted of terrorism-related charges, and in 2014 CAIR was designated as a terrorist group by the United Arab Emirates. In his reporting on the issue, A.J. Caschetta lists these and other common oversights in media coverage of CAIR’s accusations:
[The Washington Post reporters Michelle Boorstein and Hannah Allam] fail to mention important facts about CAIR, such as that the FBI cut off all relations with CAIR in 2009 because of its Muslim Brotherhood and Hamas connections, and that the Department of Justice reprimanded several FBI field offices in 2013 for failing to do so. Instead they simply refer to CAIR as “the nation’s biggest Muslim civil-rights group,” while quoting a CAIR spokesman identifying the IPT as a “dangerous . . . Islamophobic group.”
Worse still, Boorstein and Allam refer uncritically to the Dar Al-Hijrah Islamic Center simply as “one of the DC region’s largest mosques.” . . . The Dar Al-Hijrah Center and mosque in Falls Church, Virginia have a long and storied history of terrorist-related activity. Built in 1991 with Saudi money through the North American Islamic Trust, the deed to the property was signed by Jamal al-Barzinji, of Palestinian Islamic Jihad. The center’s founder was Ismail Elbarasse, a Muslim Brotherhood big-shot who had in his possession the infamous 1991 memo documenting the Muslim Brotherhood’s plan to wage “civilizational jihad” against the U.S.
The Dar Al-Hijrah mosque has also had a series of radical preachers leading Friday prayers. Anwar al-Awlaki, the imam in charge during the 9/11 era, was found to have aided and abetted the 9/11 hijackers and to have recruited for al-Qaeda.